I cook with beans and legumes a lot. I use them in hot dishes as well as appetizers and salads. I prefer to avoid buying canned beans. Cooking with dried beans is healthier, however, it takes longer. You have to plan ahead, soak overnight and cooking takes a long time. Instead, I cook the beans I commonly use in bulk and then freeze them in small portions. This method not only saves time and money on shopping and cooking but it is also a healthier alternative to buying canned beans.
Dried beans you can cook and freeze are:
- Navy beans
- Great northern beans
- Cannellini beans
- Kidney beans
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Blackeyed beans
- Garbanzo beans or chickpeas
- Green lentils
1. Start the process in the evening because you’ll need to soak the beans overnight. Rinse beans in a colander. Check the contents for any stones or debris and remove them.
2. Overnight soak: Place the dried beans in containers and fill them up with water almost twice as much the beans themselves. Let them sit overnight and soak. The water will be gone by the morning and beans will expand. Pour out the remaining water and rinse them again. The only legume you will not need to soak is green lentils.
3. Fill up the pots with water up to 1-2″ above the beans. Cook them about 45-60 minutes each at medium-high heat. If you see scum over the boiling water, remove them with a ladle. If you are using a pressure cooker, only cook about 20 minutes with a gauge at level 2 for beans.
Cook the beans until tender. The trick here is not to overcook them so that they’ll get mushy, which happened with my great northern beans in the pressure cooker. Lentils and black beans cook faster than chickpeas and pinto beans. So check every 10 mins or so after 45 minutes.
4. Once cooked tender, drain the water and let them cool down. Do not leave the beans in their boiling water as they’ll continue to soften.
Using frozen beans:
- If you are going to use beans in a hot dish like soup or stew, you can put the frozen beans in a pot and thaw them on the stove.
- If you are going to use them in a salad, remember to take them out of the freezer the night before and put in the refrigerator to thaw.
- In last minute situations, you can use the microwave to thaw the frozen beans.